Yesterday was my first day as a Senior Education Fellow at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF).
I find it helpful to read how others view their past, current, and future career considerations – so see below for mine, in case it’s of use.
From 2006 to 2014, I worked for New Schools for New Orleans. I got to work with amazing people across the city. Most of my learning was through the lens of playing a leadership role in a non-profit organization.
I learned a ton (and made many mistakes) about organizational vision setting, culture building, strategy development, and execution.
I also quickly grew to understand how hard it is to launch an excellent school that serves students in poverty; how difficult it is to ensure a decentralized systems of schools delivers on equity; how challenging it is to build a big tent reform effort that is driven by a diverse coalition; how tough it is to ameliorate the effects of poverty when a city is struggling across numerous dimensions.
Over the past year, I’ve been an independent consultant. I’ve worked with amazing people across the country. Most of my learning has been through the lens of running a small for-profit business that has a social mission.
I learned a ton (and made many mistakes) about client cultivation, pricing, resource allocation, reform condition pattern recognition, executive coaching, political analysis, data modeling, and blogging.
I’ll now be on the other side of the table: instead of seeking philanthropic investment, I’ll be investing in others. While I did some of this at NSNO, my identity there was as a CEO, not an investor.
This change in role will require me to grow a lot. Being a disciplined and effective investor will take a different mindset than being an entrepreneur. I’m excited to try and figure this out and effectively invest in great educators that radically increase educational opportunities for children across the country.
I’m not the first person to go from entrepreneur -> consultant -> investor. As such, I plan to read a lot, grab coffee with folks who’ve done it before, and constantly reflect on whether or not I’m developing the mindsets and skills I need to successfully make the transition.
Most of all, I’m excited to get to work with a team whose goals, strategies, and values deeply align with my own.